U.S. to help Israel fund four more Iron Dome anti-missile
U.S. army official says anti-rocket system 'highly effective' in
combat; funds come from $200 million-plus Obama initiative.
The Pentagon is planning to help Israel buy four more Iron Dome
short-range anti-rocket batteries, the head of the Pentagon's
Missile Defense Agency said on Wednesday.
"In our budget, we have a proposal to assist with procurement of
four more batteries," Army Lieutenant General Patrick O'Reilly,
the agency's director, told the U.S. Senate Appropriations Defense
The batteries consist of a mobile air defense system with a
radar-guided interceptor missile launched from a truck-sized
O'Reilly was referring to fiscal 2011 funding of $203.8 million
added last June at the request of President Barack Obama, agency
spokesman Richard Lehner said in an email. The goal was to spur
production and deployment of the system, the first direct U.S.
investment in the project.
Israel began deploying e50-million Iron Dome units two months ago
to counter Katyusha-style rockets fired at population centers from
Palestinian territory. The first was set up near Be'er Sheva, a
southern city twice hit by rockets during a March flare-up of
A second was deployed last month to the coastal city of Ashkelon,
north of the Gaza Strip ruled by the Palestinian Islamist movement
On April 7, the system successfully intercepted a rocket from Gaza
for the first time, followed by at least seven other intercepts,
the Israeli military said. Its development was spurred by the 2006
conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip war against
Hamas in 2008 and 2009.
O'Reilly said he considered Iron Dome to have been "highly
effective" in combat. But Israel faced a "daunting task" because
of the volume of short-range rockets and missiles it faces, he
"This is one which the United States benefits from understanding
and studying exactly how they've been successful with the Iron
Dome system," he said. U.S. troops could face similar threats from
a combat zone, O'Reilly added.
Obama in his 2012 budget request asked the U.S. Congress for
$106.1 million for U.S.-Israeli joint missile defense programs,
including improvements to the Arrow ballistic missile shield and
David's Sling. Unlike these two programs, the development of Iron
Dome was a unilateral Israeli project.
The Iron Dome's radar-guided interceptor missile is built by
state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. It is designed to
destroy in mid-air rockets and mortar bombs that have ranges of 5
km (3 miles) to 70 km (45 miles).
Declassified video of two Iron Dome intercepts was screened in
Washington this week at the annual policy conference of the
American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israeli lobby